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Alice James

  • I think that if I get into the habit of writing a bit about what happens, or rather doesn't happen, I may lose a little of the sense of isolation and desolation which abides with me. My circumstances allowing of nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllabled reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • It is so comic to hear one's self called old; even at ninety, I suppose!

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Though I have no productive worth, I have a certain value as an indestructible quantity.

    • Alice James,
    • in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • What one reads, or rather all that comes to us, is surely only of interest and value in proportion as we find ourselves therein, — form given to what was vague, what slumbered stirred to life.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Destitution and excessive luxury develop apparently the same ideals, the same marauding attitude towards mankind, the intensity of struggle for material goods, — surely showing how perfect is the meeting of extremes.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • How fatally the entire want of humor cripples the mind.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Ah! Those strange people who have the courage to be unhappy! Are they unhappy, by the way?

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • I suppose one has a greater sense of intellectual degradation after an interview with a doctor than from any other human experience.

    • Alice James,
    • 1890, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • What sense of superiority it gives one to escape reading some book which every one else is reading.

    • Alice James,
    • 1890, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Truly nothing is to be expected but the unexpected!

    • Alice James,
    • 1891, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Ever since I have been ill, I have longed and longed for some palpable disease, no matter how conventionally dreadful a label it might have, but I was always driven back to stagger alone under the monstrous mass of subjective sensations, which that sympathetic being 'the medical man' had no higher inspiration than to assure me I was personally responsible for, washing his hands of me with graceful complacency under my very nose. Dr. Torrey was the only man who did not assume because I was a victim to many pains, that I was, of necessity, an arrested mental development, too.

    • Alice James,
    • 1891, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • The gain isn't counted to the recluse and inactive that, having nothing to measure themselves by and never being tested by failure, they simmer and soak perpetually in conscious complacency.

    • Alice James,
    • 1891, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • The success or failure of a life, as far as posterity goes, seems to lie in the more or less luck of seizing the right moment of escape.

    • Alice James,
    • 1891, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Notwithstanding the poverty of my outside experience, I have always had a significance for myself, and every chance to stumle along my straight and narrow little path, and to worship at the feet of my Deity, and what more can a human soul ask for?

    • Alice James,
    • in Leon Edel, ed., The Diary of Alice James ()
  • Who would ever give up the reality of dreams for relative knowledge?

    • Alice James,
    • in Leon Edel, ed., The Diary of Alice James ()

Alice James, U.S. diarist

(1848 - 1892)